As Councils across the country consider the Government’s Three Waters Reform proposal, Waikato District Council is reflecting on its own reform that’s been in place for a couple of years – its partnership with Watercare.
Waikato District Council has been focused on improving the delivery of our water services to customers for some time, under the direction of Mayor Allan Sanson.
In October 2019, Council began contracting its drinking water, stormwater and wastewater services to Watercare.
The partnership enables Waikato District Council to maintain ownership of the three waters assets, while Watercare manage the infrastructure above and below the ground.
In the creation of the contract with Watercare, Council ensured our people and local economy would be prioritised, with procurement targets developed and all staff having job security from day one.
The partnership is governed by an independent group of trusted professionals known as the Waters Governance Board, who make sustainable decisions, monitor the progress and subsequently the delivery of service, and provide strategic input.
By delegating decision making to the Waters Governance Board, this provides council with independent advice around what is required to meet rising standards and increasing demands.
Waikato District Council’s Mayor, Allan Sanson, is proud of the decision Council made to contract the water services to Watercare and feels confident in the Waters Governance Board as the kaitiaki (guardians) of the partnership.
“This worrisome area of the business doesn’t keep me awake at night anymore as I know it’s in good hands with competent directors.”
“We have confidence in the Waters Governance Board. We trust the experts and they are reliable,” he said.
There have been many positive examples of the partnership with Watercare, including the upgrades to the Meremere wastewater treatment plant. Within two years Watercare procured and built a high technology Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) plant which will bring the plant to modern standards.
In the same time frame Watercare have also renewed Waikato District Council’s wastewater discharge resource consent for 35 years with Waikato Regional Council.
The above example is just one of the many benefits the contractual partnership has provided with a specialist water business bringing scale and focus to a growth council. Pairing this expertise with the implementation of an independent governing board has been a good mix which is lifting our level of service.